Hundreds of residents and family members of police, fire and military personnel were present at the DeKalb County Police and Fire headquarters in Tucker to remember those who had died a decade ago on Sept.11, 2001.
The road to the headquarters was closed and blocked off by two fire trucks, their long ladders extending into the sky to represent the two World Trade Center towers.
A large flag was hung between the two ladders, and farther on, the road was lined with police officers standing at attention next to their motorcycles, their blue lights flashing.
“Today we have come together to reflect upon and remember a series of events that changed forever the heart and face of our nation,” DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis said.
Ellis said the United States lost more than two buildings on Sept. 11, 2001. He said that the country lost many loved ones, and that Americans were not immune to the dangers and atrocities that have visited many other parts of the world.
“Among the first responders who have joined us here today is firefighter Doug Harms, who led a team effort to bring home to DeKalb County, Ga., a piece of the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed in the attack,” Ellis said.
Behind Ellis stood the statue designed by Harms, and artist and former U.S. Marine Curtis James Miller; the wing of an eagle spreading behind a piece of steel from the World Trade Center towers.
DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown said that to him, the anniversary stood for Americans coming together, a time when hundreds of ordinary people did extraordinary things.
“Somehow an incident so tragic, so insulting, so ungodly, brought all Americans together as one–people with no regard to color, sexual orientation, religious belief or income levels. We are Americans and we will never forget our departed heroes, and the day is forever printed in our minds and in our hearts,” Brown said.
In fact, the theme throughout the memorial service focused on remembering how people came together after that tragic day. For DeKalb County Fire Chief Eddie O’Brien, “flags were flown everywhere and strangers started speaking to each other.”
The fire chief’s brother, DeKalb Police Chief William O’Brien, said that in early May of this year, Harms approached him and his brother with an idea to memorialize the firefighters and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We immediately recognized this as a great opportunity for our departments to pay tribute to our brothers and sisters that had sadly fallen that day,” Police Chief O’Brien said.
The police chief left the crowd with a quote from President George W. Bush.
“Several days after the attack, he was quoted as saying, ‘On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose. One of the worst days in American history saw some of the bravest acts in American history,’” Police Chief O’Brien said.
Afterward, service members and residents alike bowed their heads for an 11-second moment of silence to remember those who had died and the playing of bagpipes brought a close to the ceremony.